8 Common Mistakes that Sabotage Your Curb Appeal
By Virginia C. Mcguire
When your home is on the market, first impressions are everything. An unkempt yard or peeling paint will scare some buyers away completely. But a neat, pretty exterior will bring more potential buyers in for showings and open houses. How can you avoid the pitfalls of a badly-staged exterior? We’ll outline 8 common mistakes sellers make that sabotage their home’s curb appeal.
1. Doing nothing
“One of the biggest mistakes I see is sellers not doing anything in terms of curb appeal,” said Matthew Coates, a Realtor with West USA Realty Revelation in Chandler, Arizona. Many sellers focus their staging efforts inside the house, but the exterior is at least as important. Spending half a day cleaning up your property will give the impression that your home is well cared for.
2. Too much clutter
It’s one thing to have a cluttered yard most of the time, but it shouldn’t be cluttered when your home is on the market. A collection of shoes near the front door, a jumble of lawn furniture, kids’ toys–all of that should be cleared away, with only a few tasteful pieces left out to make the yard look homey and to give buyers ideas for how the space could be used.
3. Tired landscaping
Don’t go overboard and bring in a backhoe to level the lawn, but do make sure the yard is looking its best. Water the grass, trim the hedges, and put in a few perennial flowers to brighten things up. “Adding vibrancy with fresh flowers would make a world of difference and make the yard inviting and alive,” said Coates. Backyards and gardens teeming with bright flowers is one of the main reasons the real estate market heats up in the spring. If it’s not springtime, you can still add a little color to your yard by planting seasonal flowers, sweeping up the dry leaves, and making sure it’s looking its best.
4. Peeling paint
There are many theories about which renovations are worth investing in when a house is on the market. However, we would contend that touching up the paint on the front of your house will get you the bang for your buck. New paint won’t disguise a house that’s in need of major repairs, but it will give the house a more cheerful appearance than peeling paint. It may not be practical to repaint the entire exterior, but repainting the trim goes a long way. If you can’t even paint all the trim, do the trim around the door so that the buyer standing on the front porch carries positive first impressions.
5. Quirky art
That enormous elephant statue may fit your tastes or express your eccentric sense of humor, but you don’t want buyers to fixate on one thing that makes the house seem bizarre. Because you can’t anticipate everyone’s taste, it might be best to remove all the quirky art from your house and yard. You want to showcase your house as pretty and appealing, definitely NOT quirky. A trusted friend’s honest opinion will help you part with your precious treasures – even if it is just for staging.
6. Unusual landscaping
In some circles, front yard vegetable gardens are all the rage. You’re welcome to put tomato plants into the flower beds in your front yard – but a buyer might not see it that way. The front yard is best served by ornamental plants only. Similarly, the back yard should be an inviting outdoor living space. While you’re at it, you should probably remove the backyard poultry farm, the goat pen and any other unusual pet habitats.
7. Shocking colors
Is your house locally known as “the bright purple one” or “the easter egg house?” Bright colors are cheerful, but again, you don’t want your bold taste to scare off a solid buyer. Going for neutral paint colors and lawn furniture is a safer bet when your house is on the market. For inspiration, look around the neighborhood. Your house should complement the ones around it. Save your wildest color fancies for your next home – not the home you’re trying to pass along to its next owner.
8. Outdated fixtures
New exterior light fixtures aren’t very expensive, and they make a big difference. Not only will they give the impression that your home has been updated recently, they’ll also cast a brighter light for evening drive-bys. Coates also recommended making sure the hardware on your front door is in working order. “Nothing will turn off a buyer faster than if it’s a chore just to get in the door,” he said.
None of these solutions are expensive – de-cluttering, a bit of fresh paint, a few flowers here and there. However, all these steps will help potential buyers inside the house, where your home’s real charm will have a chance to cast a spell on them.